Take Your Service to the Next Level: Only BIG WOW’s, no bow wow’s

At a recent meeting, I was helping a team of executives brainstorm ways to WOW their customers. Once we began brainstorming, it became clear to me that the executives’ perception of what a WOW was and my perception were completely different. To them, consistently smiling and greeting a customer was a WOW. To me, that is just the bare minimum of doing one’s job in the service business. I then explained what a true WOW should look like and then gave several examples. I further pressed on by stating that they should only strive for the big WOW’s. Then one executive immediately chimed in and said, “So, we only want the BIG WOW’s…and no bow-wow’s”. I literally could not stop laughing after I heard that one… hence, the title of this article.

Wowing your customers is just another way of saying, ‘exceed your customers expectations’, or ‘create exceptional memories’, or ‘provide an unforgettable experience’. At the end of the day, all customers want to feel valued, appreciated, and cared for. The challenge, in many cases, is for leaders to properly articulate to their team what a BIG WOW truly is. Of course, this also assumes that the leaders, themselves, know what a WOW is.

One of the best ways of explaining a WOW is to begin by giving concrete examples. On a recent stay at an Embassy Suites Hotel, I decided to join their guest rewards program, which is called Hilton Honors. I figured that since I would be staying in that particular hotel multiple times over a span of five months, that I should take advantage of their rewards program. So I called the Hilton Honors’ toll-free number with the single expectation of joining the Hilton Honors program. I was not prepared for what was to come.

Julia P., the customer care representative, not only registered me seamlessly, but she helped me get points from my last hotel stay, which qualified me for several thousand points. I did not know that it was even possible to get retroactive points!

            Double Platinum Rule = yes            * BIG WOW = yes      * bow-wow = no

Julia then enrolled me in Hilton Honors’ current promotion (at the time), which gave me a minimum of double points and a maximum of quadruple points based on length of stay.

            * Double Platinum Rule = yes            * BIG WOW = yes      * bow-wow = no

When I thanked her for all the insider information on the special promotions, she told me “I always tell my customers about our special promotions.” Notice the use of the words my and our. Julia was obviously proud of her company and it showed.

            * Work Like You Own It = yes            * Service Ambassador = yes

Julia ended the registration process with a genuine “Thank you for choosing Hilton Honors! We look forward to serving you again.” The WOW’s didn’t stop there.  I called back shortly thereafter because I forgot to ask a question about the program, and this time the customer care representative’s  name was Rich A. After answering my question, he immediately saw that I had just become a new member. He also noticed that I did not receive my new member bonus points that were worth 2500 points. Again, the Hilton Honors customer care representatives gave me things I did not even know existed! So Rich offered to insert those points into my profile asap.

            * Double Platinum Rule = yes            * BIG WOW = yes      * bow-wow = no

Rich then went on to explain the Hilton Honors “Double-Dipping” feature, which would allow me to receive both airline and hotel credits simultaneously. Who am I to say no to free points?

            * Double Platinum Rule = yes            * BIG WOW = yes      * bow-wow = no

Companies who are renowned  for consistently providing exceptional service have only one standard, and that standard is to WOW by any means necessary. In iconic service brands, like Nordstrom’s and Disney, there is virtually no discussion about meeting expectations. Only exceeding expectations will do. Good is not good enough. Excellence is the only standard worth discussing. The first principle of working like you own it is to begin each day by asking, “How and who will I WOW today?” The key is to consistently strive for the BIG WOW’s and leave the bow-wow’s alone.

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